Workplace Relations Act 1996

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Workplace Relations Act 1996
Coat of Arms of Australia.svg
Parliament of Australia
An Act relating to workplace relations, and for other purposes
Date commenced 1 January 1997
Introduced by Howard Government
Related legislation
Industrial Relations Act 1988
Status: Substantially amended

The Workplace Relations Act 1996 was an Australian labour law passed by the Howard Government after it came into power in 1996. It replaced the previous Labor Government's Industrial Relations Act 1988, starting operation on 1 January 1997. The Act was substantially amended by the Workplace Relations Amendment Act 2005, that came into effect on 27 March 2006, which brought in the WorkChoices changes to Australia's labour law. The Act was repealed by the Fair Work Act 2009[1] passed by the Rudd Labor Government.


The 1996 Act provided for the continuation of the federal award system which provided a minimum set of terms and conditions for employment. It kept the previous Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC), which continued to determine federal awards but whose determinations were restricted to just 20 "allowable award matters", namely:

  • classification of employees
  • hours of work
  • rates of pay
  • piece rates, tallies and bonuses
  • various forms of leave (e.g. annual and long service leave)
  • public holidays
  • allowances
  • penalty rates
  • redundancy pay
  • notice of termination
  • dispute settling procedures
  • stand down provisions
  • jury service
  • pay and conditions

Some of its provisions upon first being enacted included:


The Workplace Relations Regulations 2006 repealed and replaced the Workplace Relations Regulations 1996 to accommodate the WorkChoices amendments to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 introduced on 27 March 2006.[2] This ensued because, in 2005, the Howard government, in response to a growing number of disgruntled employers, announced the reform of unfair dismissal regulation as the focal point for changes to the Workplace Protection Act of 1996.[3]

The Act was repealed by the Fair Work Act 2009[1] passed by the Rudd Labor Government.


  1. ^ a b "Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)". 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Australian Labour Law". Henry Carus & Associates. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 

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